The 2018-19 NHL season is well underway, and across the league, teams have already outperformed expectations, or underwhelmed the masses. The offseason was busy to say the least, many teams reconfigured their 23-man rosters with hopes of icing the best possible team night in and night out. How have rosters changed over the span of one year?
Offseason transactions are an inherent part of the sport. Traded players, free agents, and prospects all make up the network of roster changes that see players change teams or even leagues.
The competition in the Western Conference is top-notch, with teams poised to be perennial contenders and other teams rapidly following suit. The numerous offseason dealings made making the playoffs a much harder task, highlighted by Erik Karlsson‘s entrance into the Western Conference as a member of the San Jose Sharks.
To see how teams have tweaked their rosters from the start of last season to the start of this one, I’ve highlighted the movement of players from team to team.
Players that started last season with one team and started this season elsewhere are highlighted as outs, with their most recent team listed. Players making debuts for their new teams are highlighted as ins. If a player played for a team last season, they aren’t considered new.
Let’s see how teams have either switched things up or kept things the same over the past year.
A lot of players migrated around the Pacific Division. One of the busier divisions in terms of transactions, it’s gonna be tough to tell which of the eight teams will find themselves in a playoff spot come April.
Out: 11 | In: 10
- Kevin Bieksa was a protected defenceman last year due to his no-movement clause. He’s currently not with any team at all.
- Ryan Kesler started both seasons on the injury reserve. Last year, he had offseason hip injury; this year, hip soreness kept him on the sidelines.
- Corey Perry is on the long-term injured reserve with a knee injury, Ondrej Kase is out with a concussion, and Patrick Eaves didn’t start the season due to a shoulder injury (not related to his Guillain-Barre syndrome diagnosis).
- Both Ryan Getzlaf and Jakob Silfverberg sustained injuries early injuries; Getzlaf has a groin injury and has missed four games, while Silfverberg might be out with an upper-body injury sustained on against the St. Louis Blues.
Out: 8 | In: 5
- Max Domi, an Arizona Coyotes 2013 first-round pick, was traded to the Montreal Canadiens for Alex Galchenyuk, who started the season on the injured reserve with a lower-body injury. Christian Dvorak was also injured to start the season.
- Barrett Hayton, 2018 first-round pick, was named to the opening night roster, but did not make it to the playing roster. After two games as a healthy scratch, the Coyotes sent him back to the OHL, where he was named captain of the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds.
- Ilya Lyubushkin made his North American debut this season. He’s played in the KHL since the 2013-14 season.
- Vinnie Hinostroza had just signed a two-year extension with the Chicago Blackhawks in mid-June before they traded him to the Coyotes less than one month later. That trade also saw Jordan Oesterle, Marian Hossa, and a 2019 third-round pick go to Arizona. Marcus Kruger, MacKenzie Entwistle, Jordan Maletta, Andrew Campbell, and a 2019 fifth-round pick went to Chicago.
Out: 10 | In: 8
- Dougie Hamilton, Micheal Ferland, and Adam Fox were traded to the Carolina Hurricanes for Elias Lindholm and Noah Hanifin prior to free agent frenzy.
- Free agent signings in James Neal, Derek Ryan, and Austin Czarnik has revamped the forward corps for the Flames, giving them depth options.
- The promotion of Dillon Dube and Juuso Valimaki to the NHL signals that Flames prospects are ready to make the jump, and Rasmus Andersson‘s later arrival has been a pleasant addition for the Flames too.
- Matt Stajan and Kris Versteeg prolonged their careers by heading overseas to play in the German and Russian leagues, respectively.
Out: 7 | In: 6
- Pat Maroon, after putting up career-bests during his time in Edmonton, signed with the Blues to play hockey out of his hometown and be with his ten-year old son.
- Mikko Koskinen was brought in from the KHL to back up Cam Talbot this season, where his contract includes a no-movement clause.
- Evan Bouchard, Edmonton’s 2018 first-round selection already finds himself playing NHL hockey just months later from the draft.
- Andrej Sekera starts the season on the long-term injured reserve with a torn Achilles tendon.
Los Angeles Kings
Out: 7 | In: 3
- Ilya Kovalchuk made his highly anticipated return to the NHL, signing a three-year deal with the Kings.
- Most of this year’s team played last season, but two Kings prospects made the jump to the NHL; Jaret Anderson-Dolan and Austin Wagner both made their NHL debuts this season.
- Dustin Brown is still recovering from a broken finger and started the season on the long-term injured reserve.
- Despite starting last season with the Kings, Michael Cammalleri was traded early on and spent most of the year with the Oilers. He is still without a contract so far.
San Jose Sharks
Out: 7 | In: 4
- Karlsson was acquired from the Ottawa Senators, allowing the Sharks to ice one of the best defensive corps in the league. The Sharks also acquired Francis Perron in the trade. Going to Ottawa were Chris Tierney, Rudolfs Balcers, Dylan DeMelo, Josh Norris, as well as draft picks.
- Mikkel Boedker was traded to the Senators earlier in the season along with Julius Bergman and a 2020 sixth-round draft pick for Mike Hoffman, Cody Donaghey, and a 2020 fifth-round draft pick. Hoffman was immediately flipped to the Florida Panthers for three draft picks.
- Antti Suomela made his North American debut with the Sharks, spending the last three seasons playing in Liiga.
- Radim Simek made his NHL debut after signing with the Sharks last season and playing with the San Jose Barracuda.
Out: 5 | In: 3
- The retirements of Henrik and Daniel Sedin mark an end of an era, leaving a massive gap in Vancouver‘s depth charts.
- Jay Beagle and Antoine Roussel were free agent signings. Roussel started the season on the injured reserve with a concussion, but has since been reactivated. However, Beagle started healthy, and is now out with a broken arm.
- Elias Pettersson was a Swedish enigma that was highly touted. He made waves in his first several games with the Canucks but is now out with a concussion after getting hit by Mike Matheson.
- Derek Dorsett was forced to retire from the NHL due to a cervical disc herniation.
Vegas Golden Knights
Out: 7 | In: 4
- Free agents Neal and David Perron both departed from the Golden Knights, signing with the Flames and Blues, respectively.
- Max Pacioretty was traded to the Golden Knights for Tomas Tatar, Nick Suzuki and a 2019 second-round pick.
- Paul Stastny signed a three-year deal entering the season, but is currently sidelined with lower body injury.
- Alex Tuch started the season on the injured reserve with a lower-body injury.
The Central Division was also busy over the offseason, but there were a couple of teams that stayed put, believing that their rosters were ideal contenders with little tweaking involved. Playoff spots will be hard-fought, especially since all Central teams are at worst bubble teams.
Out: 10 | In: 8
- Corey Crawford is close to returning after suffering a concussion. The Blackhawks brought in Cam Ward for insurance between the pipes.
- Lance Bouma and Tommy Wingels continue to be teammates; both are overseas playing in the Swiss league.
- Chris Kunitz signed a one-year deal with the Blackhawks, after spending one year with the Tampa Bay Lightning.
- Henri Jokiharju, Chicago’s 2017 first-round selection made his NHL debut this season.
Out: 6 | In: 4
- The biggest change from last season’s Colorado Avalanche roster would be the absence of Matt Duchene, who was traded to Ottawa in a three-team trade also involving the Nashville Predators.
- No prospects made the team out of training camp, but the Avalanche already boast one of the youngest rosters in the NHL, where most of their top-end prospects have already made the jump.
- Sven Andrighetto is on the injured reserve with a lower body injury.
- Stanley Cup champion Philipp Grubauer was brought in to back up Semyon Varlamov.
Out: 6 | In: 7
- Valeri Nichushkin returned to Dallas after spending the last two years in the KHL.
- Anton Khudobin replaces Kari Lehtonen as the Stars’ backup goaltender after spending the past two seasons backing up Tuukka Rask.
- Miro Heiskanen, Dallas’ third overall pick in 2017, made his NHL debut. He played two seasons in Liiga before making his way to Dallas. He’s a welcome addition to Dallas’ blueline, and has shone in the few games he’s played.
- Martin Hanzal and Stephen Johns both started the season on the injured reserve; Hanzal with a back injury and Johns with post-traumatic headaches.
Out: 7 | In: 4
- Tyler Ennis was bought out by the Wild in the offseason but quickly found a new team in the Toronto Maple Leafs prior to the start of the season.
- Eric Fehr signed a one-year deal with the Wild after spending time with the Maple Leafs, San Diego Gulls of the AHL, and was a part of the Sharks’ playoff run to close out the season.
- J.T. Brown joins the Wild after signing a two-year contract. He spent portions of last season with the Lightning and Ducks.
- Two former Wild went overseas to play hockey. Daniel Winnik sought out a contract in the Swiss league and Kyle Quincey in Liiga.
Out: 6 | In: 2
- With only six players departing from last year’s roster and two joining, the Predators are one of the teams that did not do much tinkering after their playoff run. Rightfully so, as they currently boast one of the best rosters in the league.
- Austin Watson is currently suspended for domestic violence. His suspension was recently reduced, much to the displeasure of the NHL, players, and fans.
- Alexei Emelin opted to return to the KHL as a free agent, and Dan Hamhuis was brought in, likely to replace the veteran presence.
- Zac Rinaldo signed a one-year contract with the Predators. He was previously signed to a one-year deal as a member of the Coyotes.
St. Louis Blues
Out: 10 | In: 8
- The Blues were busy in the offseason, adding Maroon, Perron, and Ryan O’Reilly as new members of the forward corps.
- Chad Johnson and Carter Hutton switched teams, both signing with their new teams as free agents. Johnson signed a one-year deal while Hutton signed for three.
- Niko Mikkola, the Blues’ 2015 fifth-round pick, started on the Blues’ roster, but was sent down the AHL to play with the San Antonio Rampage.
- Long-time Maple Leaf Tyler Bozak signed a three-year contract with the Blues, departing Toronto after nine years with the team that gave him his first NHL contract.
Out: 5 | In: 2
- Not many changes were made by the Jets, and for good reason. They’ve established themselves as a top team in the league and will likely contend for the Cup for many years to come.
- Laurent Brossoit signed a one-year deal with the Jets to back up Connor Hellebuyck. He spent time split between Edmonton and the Bakersfield Condors of the AHL last year.
- The Jets’ 2017 first-round pick Kristian Vesalainen made his NHL debut after playing in Liiga last season.
- Long-time Jet Toby Enstrom signed with MODO Hockey in the Swedish Allsvenskan league. He’s been given captain duties over in Sweden and has led the league with an average of 27 minutes played per game.
The Western Conference playoff race will be a sight to behold as the season progresses. With top-tier teams making little changes to their impressive rosters, bubble teams making drastic overhauls, and some teams not doing much at all to improve, these 15 teams will be in for a dramatic race to the finish.
The question remains on which teams will earn seeded spots and which teams will nab wild card positions, but one thing is already answered. Hockey in the West has improved, and competition will be as tough as ever.
Data courtesy of Elite Prospects.
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